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Raiders-Giants: Winners and losers, Antonio Pierce makes strong statement in debut

Lots of winners after a dominant performance

NFL: New York Giants at Las Vegas Raiders
Antonio Pierce
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

In a season that’s had more downs than ups and where it looked like all hope was lost for the Las Vegas Raiders less than a week ago, the Raiders’ dominant 30-6 Week 9 win over the New York Giants just felt different.

Yes, the Giants are far from a good team and lost their starting quarterback early in the game, but the Raiders deserve a ton of credit for fighting through all the adversity and putting together their best performance of the season by far. So, for this week’s winners and losers column, there’s only one loser...

WINNER: Antonio Pierce

Someone could have hit the jackpot in the high-limit room at the Bellagio and Antonio Pierce would still be the biggest winner in Las Vegas on Sunday. Not only did the team win, but they had by far their best game of the season both offensively and defensively. Even A.J. Cole had his best game with 63.6 yards per punt, nearly 12 yards higher than his season average, so Pierce even got the punter juiced up to play!

More than anything, Pierce proved he’s capable of being a leader and getting the most out of his players as the difference in the team’s morale was noticeable throughout the week. There’s still a long way to go before he earns the permanent job, but his first outing was certainly a step in the right direction.

WINNER: Josh Jacobs

Heading into Week 9, the most rushing yards Josh Jacobs had in a single game was 77 and he hadn’t recorded a multi-touchdown game all year. However, all it took was a change in the offensive play-caller and he put together his best outing of the campaign with 98 rushing yards and two scores on the ground.

Jacobs looked like his old self again, seemingly playing with more energy and juice as he tied a season-high with five missed tackles forced, according to PFF. The offensive line also deserves a ton of credit for the defending rushing champ returning to form as he averaged just under 1.7 yards before first contact per rush on Sunday. That’s significant because Jacobs’ season average was below a yard heading into the game.

WINNER: Amik Robertson

New York Giants v Las Vegas Raiders
Amik Robertson
Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images

Responding to adversity was the theme of the week for the Raiders and no one seems to do that better than Amik Robertson. Over the last couple of seasons, Roberston has had a few games where he’ll get beat early and respond stronger than ever with an excellent performance the rest of the way out.

That’s pretty much what happened against the Giants as Jalin Hyatt beat Robertson deep—but the pass was wide and Marcus Epps helped force Hyatt out of bounds—and Robertson responded by putting together a great outing.

The fourth-year pro hauled in his second interception of the year, and returned it for 40 yards, which puts him in a three-way tie for the most on the team. He also logged a pass breakup on another target, culminating in a 50 percent completion percentage and just 17 yards on two completions when thrown at, per PFF.

All of that helped Robertson earn an elite 91.0 overall grade from PFF that currently ranks fifth among cornerbacks for the week and is a career-best by over 10 points.

WINNER: Andre James

Andre James faced a major test in this game as Dexter Lawrence had been wreaking havoc on opposing offenses with 23 pressures and three sacks in the team’s previous two games. And James has struggled to handle big, physical nose tackles in the past. However, the latter answered the call in a big way.

Lawrence didn’t record a single pressure for the first time all season and only had three total tackles on the afternoon, none of which went for a loss. He was pretty quiet for the majority of the game, which means James did his job, and that showed up on the scoreboard as the Giants’ best defensive player was neutralized.

WINNER: Bo Hardegree

Sunday’s game was something that should sit at the top of Bo Hardegree’s résumé for a while. With the same players and pretty much the same playbook as the previous offensive play-caller, Hardegree managed to call an offense that scored more than 20 points for the first time all season and nearly doubled the team’s points per game before he took over.

Much like Pierce, it’s only one game and there’s still a long way to go before Hardegree earns the full-time job, but Sunday was certainly a feather in his cap as he out-performed the person who hired him.

LOSER: Josh McDaniels

This will be the last time I pick on Josh McDaniels for winners and losers, but it has to be mentioned how bad the Raiders’ performance against the Giants makes him look. The team was significantly better across the board without McDaniels, including the offense that he was supposed to be the mastermind of.

Most people knew he was the problem before this weekend, but Sunday’s game sent a loud statement to the entire league that he’s not fit to be a head coach as the same players had no problems getting up and playing for Pierce. And the stories that have recently surfaced about him not being able to take criticism show that McDaniels is the same person he was in Denver; an over arrogant ego-manic.